Simran Sethi is a journalist and educator focused on food, sustainability and social change. Named the environmental, “messenger” by Vanity Fair and designated one of the top eight women saving the planet by Marie Claire, Sethi is a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) in Oakland, CA. Her book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate; The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, which was named one of the best food books of 2016 by Smithsonian, explains changes in food and agriculture through flavor and stories about bread, wine, chocolate, coffee and beer. Sethi is also the creator of The Slow Melt, the first podcast on all things chocolate and winner of the 2017 Saveur award for Best Food Podcast.
Lauded as an “environmental woman of impact” by Daily Variety, Sethi has written for outlets including Smithsonian, NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Oprah.com and the Guggenheim Museum. She is the contributing author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy, winner of the bronze 2008 Axiom Award for Best Business Ethics Book.
Sethi is the former environmental correspondent for NBC News, which included contributions to CNBC, MSNBC, TODAY and Nightly News. She has produced environmental programming for PBS and Sundance Channel, and was the host of the Emmy Award-winning documentary, A School in the Woods.
Sethi holds an M.B.A. in sustainable business from the Presidio Graduate School and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in sociology and women’s studies from Smith College. The College awarded her the Smith College Medal in 2009.
She has lectured on writing, chocolate, agricultural biodiversity, environmentalism and sustainability on five continents, at institutions including Harvard University, Columbia University, Cornell University, the Iowa Writers Workshop, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the New York Open Center. Sethi has a knack for making complex topics easily understandable for her audience, invoking a passion for powerful advocacy and celebrating - through accompanying tastings - ways for people to use chocolate, beer, and other foods and drinks as delicious, powerful vehicles for social change.
Praise for Simran Sethi:
"Simran did a wonderful job keynoting the Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference, and our participants enjoyed her presentation very much! One of them told me how much he appreciated that she "cares" about the farm, food and people. She is a gifted journalist and presenter."
--Ken Toong, Founder, Tastes of the World Chef Culinary Conference, Executive Director of Auxiliary Enterprises, University of Massachusetts Amherst
“Simran Sethi is one of the great environmental storytellers of our generation. Imagine taking on such complex topics as food security and sustainable agriculture, and making them not only easily understandable through focusing on a food many love (chocolate), but stirring the genesis of passion for powerful advocacy. Her message is both digestible and delicious in both meanings of both words!”
--Keith Diaz Moore, Dean, College of Architecture + Planning, University of Utah
“Simran Sethi is an original and important voice in today’s increasingly complex world of food. Where as some who have fallen deep into food have difficulty translating their ideas beyond the choir, Simran has a knack to communicate to both novice and expert alike with a wondrous sense of adventure and practical learning. Amongst the many big names at Slow Food Nations, Simran stole the show for her humor, warmth and dead-serious subject matter.”
--Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA
“If you’re looking for a presenter who will stay in the middle of the road, who won’t rock the boat, and who will stick to the status quo, take a pass on Simran Sethi. By contrast, if you’re looking for a speaker who’s smart, insightful, passionate and powerful, call Simran. Her presentations are lively, thought provoking, and positively memorable.”
--Ari Weinzweig, Cofounder, Zingermans Community of Businesses
“In our current socio-political environment—cluttered with too much information, tainted by fake news, and compromised by faulty values—Simran Sethi cuts through the noise with her clear, smart, passionate and engaging voice. Drawing on her personal experience, uncompromising journalism, sharp analysis, and gifted storytelling, Sethi brings a rare and welcome combination of interests and skills to the world of food.”
--Mitchell Davis, Executive Vice President, the James Beard Foundation
“Simran’s Cornell lecture on foods and peoples was a beautiful tapestry of history, culture, science, art, and humor. She tolds the audience spellbound as she spins her tale and brings the message of how we live and what we eat and drink (and why) back home. Ultimately, hers is a message of joy.”
--Christopher P. Dunn, Executive Director, Cornell Botanic Gardens, Cornell University
"Simran Sethi gave a compelling keynote address at our annual farmer forum, where we convened a diverse range of farmer partners. Farmers are at the heart of what we eat every day, and recognizing her deep connection to them through her work, Sethi thoughtfully engaged our farmer partners around the value they bring as they continue to pursue sustainable agriculture practices in favor of more biodiversity, and ultimately, more choices for American families."
--Steeve Yammine, Vice-President, DanoneWave
"Lawrence is a community that is very engaged in the sustainable food movement and hearing Simran Sethi's talk about her book Bread, Wine, Chocolate was illuminating, to say the least. Any foodie would be interested in hearing insights into the homogenization of our favorite foods, and the far-ranging impact of making food easy on the bottom lines of food companies to the detriment of the environment and the food itself."
-- Kristin Soper, Event Coordinator, Lawrence Public Library
“Simran Sethi brought a unique perspective to our community of scientists and researchers. Her ability to weave science with deeply personal narrative is rare. Simran provided evidence-based research couched in storytelling to keep the audience rapt and inspired to find their own voices in teaching and sharing their science to emulate the impact Simran had on them.”
-- Michelle Wyman, Executive Director, National Council for Science and the Environment
“Simran rounded out our recent media expert panel on food and travel trends by offering an interesting insight from a broadcast and author perspective. Her keynote was insightful and on-point, delivered with humor, useful audience takeaways and extremely engaging. We would recommend Simran and warmly invite her back to the Colorado Tourism Office tourism conference again.”
-- Sarah-Jane Johnson, Colorado Tourism Office
Praise for Bread, Wine, Chocolate:
“Is biodiversity the key to a better cup of coffee? And how sexy can achieving food security really be? Simran Sethi’s answers are ‘yes’ and ‘you’d be surprised.’ In her book, [she] looks at ways in which monoculture and an increasingly standardized global diet put food systems in peril and leave crops vulnerable to blight and climate change. And she does so winningly, by relishing her favorite things to eat and drink, visiting the places they’re produced, digging up their stories and teasing out nuances of flavor unique to individual varieties and landscapes.”
--The Wall Street Journal
“Read this wonderful book and you will become immersed in the intricate worlds of no less than six (delicious) foods and drinks. But this is not really a book about food. Rather, it is about our relationships with the life forms that sustain us—and how we might learn to approach those relationships with far more love, compassion, and good taste.”
-- Naomi Klein, New York Times bestselling author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“Simran Sethi’s passionate book on food and biodiversity reminds us how healing food can be. The world is on our plate.”
--Deepak Chopra, M.D., author of more than 80 books, including Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being
“We need more investigative journalists like Simran Sethi. She writes with a deep understanding of pleasure and taste to convey her urgent message—we must make uncompromising, purposeful choices when it comes to what we eat before it’s too late! Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love is a loving call to action that we must heed.”
--Alice Waters, chef, author and the proprietor of Chez Panisse
“Brimming with information and amply footnoted, Bread, Wine, Chocolate is a revelation throughout.”
“… full of wonderfully geeky bits of science, including an excellent section on how memory and culture influences our perception of taste. But Sethi’s friendly, welcoming tone makes serious topics digestible and pleasurable. ‘Eat and drink with reverence and gusto, whether it’s a Big Mac or a mountain of kale,’ she writes, with an admirable lack of foodie pretension."
“In this illuminating and impactful book, Simran Sethi sheds light on the dwindling diversity of our diets and our landscapes through the stories of our most beloved tastes. The solution to this global agricultural and culinary crisis, she argues, lies in our collective palates. Bread, Wine, Chocolate calls on all of us to cherish—and thus preserve—the world’s endangered flavors.”
- -Dan Barber, chef/co-owner of Blue Hill Restaurant and New York Times bestselling author of The Third Plate
“A stirring call to arms for anyone who loves food!”
- -Andrea Reusing, James Beard award-winning chef and author of Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes
“A passionate plea to save and restore the things most precious about our food—its myriad flavors and its connection with nature. As global economic forces slowly squeeze the uniqueness out of what we eat, Simran Sethi explores the culinary delights that offer hope, and deliciousness, for the future.”
-- John McQuaid, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat
“Follow Simran on a journey with a lifetime companion: taste buds. They are not baubles to be manipulated by food conglomerates. Taste buds are the most precious of gifts. They are evolution itself, a teacher, a kindness, a guide sorting out millions of molecules, a doorman making sure that everything we chew and savor is on the guest list.
In this needed and nourishing volume, you will discover how tastes can recover an even larger sense, a self that is intimately connected to a vast, pulsating life of ecstasy and delight. Read this and you will understand that cuisine is how we kiss the world. There is more good news: It kisses back.”
-- Paul Hawken, New York Times bestselling author of Natural Capitalism and Blessed Unrest
“When Simran Sethi lasers in on a topic, stop and take notice. She is a fierce observer and a cool head in a world riven with misinformation, disinformation, and just plain wrong-headedness. Her new book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate should be required reading for culinary students, chefs in training, journalists, scholars, cooks and citizens who care about what they put into their mouths as well as what we’re doing to Mother Earth. All I can say to you is: Watch out Gary Taubes, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestle, Nina Planck. There’s a new expert coming on the scene. A hot new voice of reason in a cold, frightened world, Simran Sethi is the kind of writer who can coat the bitter pill in honey and we all just swallow and say thank you.”
- Linda West Eckhardt, IACP Julia Child award-winning author of Bread in Half the Time and editor/founder of Everybody Eats News
“By turns explorer and explainer, Simran Sethi conducts a thoughtful and heartfelt tour of humanity’s most beloved tastes—and the threats that could extinguish them forever.”
-- Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club
“When we taste, we taste history—the interplay of crops, livestock and even wild things—with our own human cultures. And we taste diversity: genetic diversity, cultural diversity. Simran Sethi’s book opens this world to a new generation by focusing on foods we think we know, but don’t.
Bread, Wine, Chocolate helps us understand the richness of these foods and others, and why it is essential to preserve diversity if we wish to appreciate and fully benefit from such foods in the future. Readers of this book will both enjoy and be enlightened; many will even find their taste buds subtly changed by a new awareness of what they are really eating.”
-- Cary Fowler, senior advisor to the Global Crop Diversity Trust and author of Shattering: Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity
“A powerful reminder that we can eat in ways that don’t cause damage to the planet or its poorest people—and that can delight us, not just fill us up. Don’t read it on an empty stomach!”
- Bill McKibben, Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and New York Times bestselling author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet